bumped into this short, sweet, very superficial documentary about a Zen group in Kentucky. For those interested in seeing how Zen is evolving or practiced by other groups in the U.S. This film is mostly centered on how unusual it is to establish a Zen center in the Appalachians and how the group interacts with the locals and so on. The film is barely about Zen practice and avoids any shadows, so it falls under the category of storybook Zen.
And here below is the Wikipedia entry on the founding teacher. Dae Gak (Robert Genthner) is both a Zen teacher and a psychologist - which is not a bad combination - there are many Buddhist teachers that realized they needed professional training - NOT Zen - to better guide their students. But as you can see, his psychologist license was suspended for having sexual contact with his clients........ and also note that he resigns from his original order... and remember, his own teacher - Seung Sahn - who was under monk vows - was accused of having sex with some/ many of his female students. So the film presents this idyllic picture - which is hardly the case.
By the way, this group also teaches NVC - Non-Violent Communications - which I think is a very useful system of learning how to communicate - and blends well with dharma practice. And this group's website has not posted any code of conduct or ethics - and given the reality that their teacher was suspended / disciplined for sexual behavior with clients, you think they might want to address that in some way. Ignoring that - to me - is a major warning sign. Would you recommend a female friend go practice there? I wouldn't.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dae Gak (born 1947), born Robert Genthner, is a Zen master and the guiding teacher of Furnace Mountain in Clay City, Kentucky, a Korean Buddhist temple and retreat center co-founded in 1986 with Seung Sahn. He received Dharma transmission from Seung Sahn in 1994, and now teaches independently of Seung Sahn's Kwan Um School of Zen. In addition to Furnace Mountain he serves as guiding teacher for other Zen groups in North America, Germany and England. He also holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is currently a licensed psychologist in the state of Kentucky.
Robert Genthner (Buddhist name Dae Gak, "great enlightenment") was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1947. He went to graduate school in Psychology at Kent State University. Genthner graduated from Kent State in 1973 with his Ph.D. in clinical psychology, later that year teaching psychology at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. He stopped teaching in 1979, afterward practicing as a licensed psychologist.
In 1979, Genthner met Korean monk and Zen teacher Seung Sahn during a retreat at the Providence Zen Center. In the early 1980s, he and several other individuals founded the Lexington Zen Center in his home, with retreats sometimes taking place at the homes of other practitioners. The group became affiliated with Seung Sahn's Kwan Um School of Zen, founded in July 1983. In 1986, he co-founded a Zen temple at Furnace Mountain with Seung Sahn. The temple, Kwan Se Um San Ji Sah (which means "Perceive World Sound High Ground Temple"), was completed in 1994. Also that year, Genthner/Dae Gak received Dharma transmission from Seung Sahn, and founded the Cincinnati Zen Center.
In 2000, Genthner was subject to disciplinary action following allegations by two patients of sexual misconduct and violations of patient confidentiality; while denying wrongdoing, he agreed to a suspension of one year, a fine, and one year of supervised probation after his license was reinstated. Also in 2000, he left the Kwan Um School of Zen and began his own. He has since established groups in North America, Germany and England.
^ Lexington Herald Leader, 7/25/2000, Psychologist's License Suspended, B3
Fall 2000 Psychology Board News, State of Kentucky Board of Psychological Examiners, Volume 3, Issue 2, "Robert W. Genthner, Ph.D. June 2000 Settlement Agreement", "The Board alleged that Dr. Genthner, a Kentucky licensed psychologist, exploited two of his clients by sexual touching, had sexual contact with these, failed to create and maintain written psychological records of the therapy of the two clients, and divulged confidential information about one of his patients. Genthner denied these charges. The Board and Dr. Genthner agreed: 1) to a one year active suspension of his license to practice psychology as of June 2000 2) to have his license placed on probation with weekly supervision of his entire practice of psychology for a period of two(2) years after the one(1) year suspension; and 3) to pay the amount of $2,742.50 for investigative costs to the Board."